Nearly one year later, the cornerback from Clearwater Countryside (FL) is ready to finally arrive at Iowa State. Johnson was ultimately grayshirted following his commitment, and will enroll at Iowa State next semester.
“It sucked because I wanted to play,” said Johnson, who made another visit to Ames on Nov. 22 ahead of his permanent arrival in the coming weeks. “It was difficult. I’ve never sat out of football before.”
The grayshirt and long wait may ultimately pay off.
Johnson, who was 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds as a senior, once held offers from Arizona, Cincinnati, Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers, USF, Syracuse, UCF and Western Kentucky. Staying at home in Florida this semester wasn’t an easy task for Johnson, but he never wavered on his commitment when it was decided he would grayshirt and wait to essentially join the 2015 Class.
“Iowa State was always there for me from the beginning,” Johnson said. “I felt like they gave me another chance by saying they were going to grayshirt me, so I wasn’t going to turn them down because they were still there even though I was doing bad in school and everything.
“They were still there, so I wanted to stay with them.”
The Cyclones currently have one high school commit (Stephon Brown) in the 2015 Class and have continued to target various JUCO cornerbacks. Johnson, who has worked in the weight room in the last several months — doing ladders and various other workouts — doesn’t expect to redshirt upon his arrival.
That message was communicated to him recently from coach Paul Rhoads.
“He was like, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. Stay in shape, because January is going to come faster than you think and we need you. We think you can play early and we want you to play early,’” Johnson said Rhoads told him on his visit. “He said, ‘I’m not going to redshirt you. I don’t plan on redshirting you. That grayshirt year, that was like a redshirt for you.’”
Johnson remained in contact with Iowa State coaches during the past several months, receiving motivation along the way. Grayshirting has provided him a better opportunity to contribute immediately, which he isn’t shy about.
“I’m a playmaker,” Johnson said. “I’m tall for a corner, that’s what they say. I’m going to get the ball in my hands one way or another.”